Tag Archives: tgen

carbon

TGen, NAU awarded $2 million to study biodiversity

Potential connections between the biodiversity of soil microorganisms and the carbon cycle will be studied by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) under a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The TGen-NAU project was one of 14 recently awarded a grant by NSF under the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.

“The work will test the idea that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of the carbon cycle, connecting microbes to the entire Earth system,” said Dr. Bruce Hungate, Professor of Biology and a Director in NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

The project will investigate “a surprising response” to changes in soil carbon levels: When new carbon enters the soil, a chain reaction leads to the breakdown of older soil carbon that otherwise would have remained stable, Dr. Hungate said.

“Current theory does not explain this chain reaction,” Dr. Hungate said. “The project will explore new dimensions connecting the diversity of the tree of life with the carbon cycle.”

TGen’s role in the project leverages advances in metagenomic sequencing — spelling out the DNA code of microbial samples from the environment  —made by Dr. Lance Price, Director of TGen’s Center for Microbiomics and Human Health, and Dr. Cindy M. Liu, a medical doctor and researcher at both TGen and NAU, who now works for Johns Hopkins University.

“This project is a natural extension of our efforts to understand how the human microbiome responds to injuries, surgeries and chemicals,” Dr. Price said. “Here, we’re investigating how the planet’s microbiome responds to excess carbon inputs, which may in turn loop back to negatively affect public health.”

The work is important, Dr. Hungate said, because soil carbon is a major reservoir in the global carbon cycle, storing about three times the amount of carbon contained in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Some soil processes promote carbon storage, locking it away in stable forms, resistant to decay.

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TGen’s Keim named AZBio’s 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year

TGDr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), will receive the 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

“Dr. Keim was nominated by members of the Arizona Bioscience Community and selected by an independent, statewide panel of leaders for this recognition of his research and innovation in the field of pathogen genomics and microbiology,” said AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.

His award will be presented at the 7th annual AZBio Awards on Oct. 23 at the Phoenix Convention Center. An industry showcase and student discovery session are scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m., and the awards gala is from 6-9 p.m.

“AZBio’s recognition of Dr. Keim is extraordinarily well deserved,” said TGen President and Scientific Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Paul’s unique achievements in interpreting the microbial genomes of pathogens — both those that naturally cause disease, but also those made into weapons by terrorists — are of profound importance.  His research, coupled to his dedications to his students and to the cause of public health globally, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and puts Arizona on the map in this critical growing area of research.”

Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation’s biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks — even pandemics — of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.

“Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen’s job is to rapidly advance our science to make great impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility,” said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU.

Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU’s Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.

Since 2004, he has been a member of the federal government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He helped draft national guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research. Dr. Keim’s work at the NSABB includes recently serving two years as the acting Chair.

While TGen this year celebrates a decade of progress, TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, also known as TGen North in Flagstaff, is celebrating five years of protecting human health though genomic investigations of some of humankind’s most deadly microbes.

“Paul Keim’s work ranges broadly — from plague in prairie dogs, to cholera in Haiti,” said NAU Provost Laura Huenneke. “Here at NAU, literally hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, have participated in that research and launched from there into successful careers. His research group has also grown into the strong partnership between the university and TGen North — a huge economic development dividend for Flagstaff.’’

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TGen Launches Center for Rare Childhood Disorders

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today announced the creation of a new center that could have life changing effects on the lives of potentially thousands of children and their families.

The TGen Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD) will harness the latest technologic leaps in genome sequencing to pinpoint the causes of rare childhood disorders that largely remain a mystery to modern medicine.

“We envision a Center that leverages today’s genomic technology toward diagnosing children with a baffling array of seriously debilitating, and often lethal, symptoms for which there is no known cause or treatment, let alone a cure. In many cases, it’s merely a collection of symptoms,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen. “Through the C4RCD, TGen has a unique opportunity to significantly improve the lives of these children and their families.”

The Honorable Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer praised the new TGen initiative as a major step in meeting the healthcare needs of Arizonans, and as a fundamental building block of the state’s burgeoning biotechnology sector.

“With its new Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, TGen continues to position Arizona as a world-class leader in bioscience and research,” said Gov. Brewer. “More importantly, this program holds the promise of bringing much-needed certainty and hope to the lives of thousands of Arizona children and their families. I commend TGen for its pioneering work that is making a real difference in the lives of Arizonans.”

Resolving the plight of one 12-year-old Phoenix girl named Shelby helped pave the way for C4RCD. Shelby was once a wheelchair-bound patient who for nearly a decade had difficulty walking, talking, holding her head up, and who had difficulty swallowing, and even breathing.

Shelby’s sequenced genome showed she had a problem making dopamine, a key brain chemical that helps regulate movement, muscle control and balance. Within a few months of receiving a medication to address her dopamine deficiency, Shelby was able to do away with her wheelchair. Now, she can talk, walk; enjoy restaurants, shopping and school.

“For us, TGen has been a miracle,” said Shelby’s mother, Renee, who hopes TGen’s C4RCD will bring hope to other parents, as well. “I am truly ecstatic. Shelby and I are very happy about it. It gives parents a place to go when it may seem that they’ve lost all hope. The scientists at TGen are amazing.”

Often, there are just a few children, or even a single child, with a particular set of symptoms. Collectively, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are close to 7,000 rare diseases and about 25 million people in the U.S. have one.

“Too often, the parents of these children are left with nowhere to turn. They often are simply prescribed medications for their child, such as anti-seizure drugs, that only address the symptoms,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s Deputy Director of Bioinformatics and Co-Director of the C4RCD.

“At TGen, we now have the tools to sequence the entire genome of these children, in a relatively short time and at ever-lower costs. Through this examination of the billions of chemical letters that spell out each human being’s unique genome, and analyzing all the potential genetic changes, or mutations, we now have the ability to potentially identify the root cause of each child’s condition,” said Dr. Craig.

Understanding what is causing the disease or condition enables TGen to consider treatment options that could best help each child.

“Largely, these families have not had many answers. They’ve seen a lot of doctors. They’ve run a lot of tests. If they’re lucky, their disease might have a name,” said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, Head of TGen’s Neurobehavioral Research Unit and Co-Director with Dr. Craig of the C4RCD. “We hope to provide these families — first and foremost — with answers. We strongly believe those answers will be found in their genome.”

Once a genetic target is identified, C4RCD will look for an existing FDA-approved drug that could be repurposed to treat the rare disorder.

If there is no obvious approved drug, C4RCD will develop a custom screening approach to prioritize approved drugs in order of their potential effectiveness. In this fashion, it may be possible to help improve the quality of life for these children quickly without the time-consuming development of an entirely new pharmaceutical agent.

TGen’s C4RCD has four major components: 1) Clinical evaluation and genomic diagnosis. 2) Counseling, and optimizing conventional therapy. 3) Novel therapy development. 4) Community outreach.

Each child will be clinically evaluated and have their genome tested, including the use of whole genome sequencing, which spells out the entire 3 billion letters of each individual’s DNA genetic code.

“One of the important things is to collect available clinical information, and accurately define the phenotype, or problem, causing the child’s issues. That has to be framed very carefully, correctly. This initial step is critical in order to analyze the genome sequencing data,” said Dr. Vinodh Narayanan, Medical Director of C4RCD.

“A precise genetic or molecular diagnosis is of vital importance for the entire family of our patients. But that is just the beginning. We want to use this genetic information to understand more about the particular disorder, and develop novel approaches to treatment. That is what is going to differentiate us from other services — complete integration of the clinical center and the genomic research lab,” said Dr. Narayanan.

Dr. Trent said that there is a critical unmet need in the medical community, which only now can begin to be addressed through the advent of new genomic technologies.

“We continue to be amazed at the way families of children with debilitating conditions are able to find each other, share stories of their victories and of what is wrong, and try to come up with answers,” said Dr. Trent. “We hope to become an active partner and leader in these communities as we learn from the families and patients, and then try to come up with new and better answers for these children — today.”

For information about TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, please go to c4rcd.org or call 1-855-343-8611.

Cancer-Research

Philanthropists establish $100,000 cancer challenge

Through Sept. 30, donations for ovarian cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will be matched — up to $100,000 — by philanthropists Lynn and Foster Friess.

The challenge is in memory of Taryn Ritchey, the 22-year-old daughter of Judy Jost of Cave Creek, Ariz., a personal assistant to Foster Friess. In 2007, Taryn lost her battle with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.

“Taryn is gone physically, but her spirit remains. She is always with me, always in my heart. And, she continues to inspire the doctors and researchers at TGen,” her mother said. “My daughter never gave up, and neither has TGen, which continues to advance cutting-edge genetic technology in pursuit of better cancer treatments; and perhaps, someday — we can pray — a cure.”

TGen’s advanced genomics-based treatments, using molecular DNA profiling, gave Taryn another five months of life — months that still mean the world to her family.

“It gave us, and Taryn, hope.  She never gave up hope.  We never did, and neither did TGen,” Judy Jost said.

Lynn and Foster Friess, who split their time between Scottsdale, Ariz., and Jackson, Wyo., have previously donated more than $400,000 to TGen for ovarian cancer research.

“We continue to support ovarian cancer research in memory of Judy’s daughter, Taryn, because we are confident that TGen can win the battle against ovarian cancer, and save lives,” Foster Friess said.

The Friess Family Foundation will match contributions, dollar-for-dollar — up to $100,000 — to TGen’s ovarian cancer research. The challenge will end Sept. 30, 2012.

““The philanthropic leadership of Lynn and Foster Friess is a tremendous inspiration for our scientific researchers, as well as our patients and contributors,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff.

For more information or to donate, go to www.tgenfoundation.org or contact Erin Massey, Director of Development, at emassey@tgen.org or 602-343-8470.

Ivy Foundation

Ivy Foundation Contributes $10 Million To TGen For Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants for two groundbreaking brain cancer research projects at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

One $5-million-project is titled “Outliers in Glioblastoma Outcome: Moving the curve forward.” This five-year investigation seeks to discover why approximately two percent of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients — the outliers — live far beyond the average survival time of 18 months. GBM is the most common and aggressive form of malignant primary brain tumor; 98 percent of people diagnosed with GBM live less than 18 months.

“A major challenge with brain cancer is that people survive such a short time,” said Catherine (Bracken) Ivy, founder and president of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “If this research enables patients to live longer, clinicians and researchers will gain a better understanding of how this disease works, which will bring us time to move closer to a cure.”

“The tireless and dedicated support of programs like the Ivy Foundation is helping transform ideas into medical reality,” said TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

By precisely identifying the billions of molecular building blocks in each patient’s DNA through whole genome sequencing, TGen researchers hope to discover the genetic differences between those patients who survive only a few months, and those who survive longer because their brain cancer develops more slowly.

Using these genetic targets, TGen researchers will identify those patients most likely to benefit from the current standard of care, and those who might best benefit from alternative or new experimental treatments.

“If we can identify patients who will likely only survive a few months on current standard of care regimens we can then prioritize those patients for personalized clinical trials,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s deputy director of bioinformatics and one of the project’s principal investigators.

In the second $5-million project, “Genomics Enabled Medicine in Glioblastoma Trial,” TGen and its clinical partners will lead first-in-patient clinical trial studies that will test promising new drugs that might extend the survival of GBM patients.

This multi-part study will take place in clinics across the country and TGen laboratories.

This project begins with a pilot study of 15 patients, using whole genome sequencing to study their tumor samples to help physicians determine what drugs might be most beneficial.

To support molecularly informed clinical decisions, TGen labs also will examine genomic data from at least 536 past cases of glioblastoma, as well as tumor samples from new cases, developing tools that will produce more insight into how glioblastoma tumors grow and survive. TGen also will conduct a series of pioneering lab tests to measure cell-by-cell responses to various drugs.

“We expect to identify genes that play a crucial role in this cancer’s survival and that may be crucial to the survival of other types of cancer as well,” said Dr. Michael Bittner, co-director of TGen’s Computational Biology Division.

To get new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, this five-year study will include a feasibility study involving up to 30 patients, followed by Phase II clinical trials with as many as 70 patients. TGen intends to team with the Ivy Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortium that includes: University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; University of Utah; and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

The results of these clinical trials should not only help the patients who join them, but also provide the data needed for FDA approval and availability of new drugs that could benefit tens of thousands of brain cancer patients in the future.

“Working with physicians, the project will aim to get new drugs to patients faster, deliver combinations of drugs that might be more effective than using a single drug, quickly identify which therapies don’t work, and accelerate discovery of ones that might prove promising for future development,” said Dr. John Carpten, TGen’s deputy director of basic science, director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and another of the project’s principal investigators.

In addition to helping patients as quickly as possible, the projects should significantly expand Arizona’s network of brain cancer experts.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to find more solutions for the patient diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy, who also is working to establish additional clinical trials in the Phoenix area, giving local patients more treatment options. “The clinical trials are very exciting because they can impact the patient today.”

For more information on the Ivy Foundation, visit their website www.ivyfoundation.org.

forma therapeutics

FORMA Therapeutics Teams With TGen Drug Development

FORMA Therapeutics and TGen Drug Development (TD2) announced an agreement to jointly develop transformative cancer therapies, leveraging the synergistic capabilities of both organizations.

“TD2 brings preclinical and clinical development capabilities to FORMA, filling the missing piece in our strategy to become a fully-integrated research and development organization, leading the creation of breakthrough medicines for cancer patients”

TD2 is a subsidiary of the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a world-renowned biomedical research institute.

FORMA and TD2 also announced that Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., F.A.C.P., TGen’s Distinguished Professor and Physician-in-Chief, and Stephen Gately, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer at TD2, will serve as clinical advisors to FORMA.

FORMA Therapeutics targets essential cancer pathways to create transformative, small molecule cancer therapies. Its focus on early identification of potent tool compounds helps facilitate target validation, enabling the creation of a robust pipeline of new therapies in areas such as tumor metabolism, protein-protein interactions and epigenetics.

TD2’s mission is to facilitate innovative drug development and move new, targeted compounds to patients as quickly as possible. TD2 applies cutting-edge preclinical tools, streamlined and efficient regulatory processes and unique, targeted clinical trial designs and strategies. The combination of cutting-edge science, clinical development expertise and access to patients will accelerate the development of new agents for patients.

“I am excited about the potential of this relationship between FORMA and TD2,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “It will accelerate the creation of new molecules that could be placed in research programs, such as our US Oncology Research Phase I program, further accelerating development and getting the right treatment to the right patient as soon as possible.”

“TD2 brings preclinical and clinical development capabilities to FORMA, filling the missing piece in our strategy to become a fully-integrated research and development organization, leading the creation of breakthrough medicines for cancer patients,” said Steven Tregay, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of FORMA. “We welcome Drs. Von Hoff and Gately as advisors and their unprecedented experience and networks in oncology drug development.”

“FORMA’s pioneering approach to oncology small molecule drug discovery has been prolific in tackling intractable targets and establishing industry partnerships,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “We look forward to bringing the experience of our team to the FORMA team to guide its discovery programs and develop these important new drugs for patients.”

TD2 has helped transition more than 40 companies from discovery to clinical development over the past five years, and TD2 has collective experience in performing clinical studies on more than 400 new anti-cancer agents

“Our oncology discovery programs span more than 30 drug targets per year, and we need a partner to help direct the right drugs to the right patient groups,” said Kenneth Bair, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development of FORMA Therapeutics. “The TD2 team provides unique access to genetically selected patient populations that will help us both discover and test personalized therapeutics.”

For more information on FORMA Therapeutics and TGen Drug Development, visit FORMA Therapeutics’s website at formatherapeutics.com and visit TGen Drug Development’s website td2.org.

man looking at molecular structure model

Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Breaking New Ground

Arizona’s bioscience roadmap has helped guide the state into the future.

A political breakthrough, not a scientific one, may be the biggest spark for the Valley’s burgeoning bioscience industry.

“The bioscience industry is critical to our economic future,” says Greg Stanton, who took over as the new mayor of Phoenix in January. “While other industries have lost jobs during the recession, bioscience created them. I am proud to have been a leader in supporting bioscience industries. … As mayor, I will continue that leadership — building a diverse, robust economy with quality high-wage jobs for our future.”

In his inaugural remarks, Stanton said that his first priority as mayor is forming a new collaboration with Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic Hospital and others in the private sector to develop a major bioscience hub in northeast Phoenix.

The Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative will be built around the 210-acre Mayo campus. The area Stanton hopes to develop into a bioscience hub is the area between 56th and 64th streets, Loop 101 and the Central Arizona Project canal. The mayor hopes to draw higher education institutions, research and development facilities, and technology-based businesses. “In over a decade of public service, Greg Stanton has always fought to support the bioscience industry,” says Robert S. Green, longtime Arizona bioscience advocate and past president of the Arizona BioIndustry Association. “His consistent leadership has been, and will continue to be, vitally important to the future economic growth of our state.”

The Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative will be the second centralized bioscience hub for Phoenix. The city already has a bioscience high school, the University of Arizona’s Phoenix medical school, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), which has spurred economic growth downtown. Stanton hopes to recreate the same success in northeast Phoenix, creating a second bioscience employment center for the city.

Stanton’s goals of bringing more high-wage jobs to Phoenix while building the city’s bioscience industry go hand in hand. Bioscience workers in Arizona earn an annual salary of $57,360, on average, compared with $42,090 for all private-sector employees, according to the Flinn Foundation. And average annual bioscience wages in Arizona have increased 47 percent since 2002.

The Desert Ridge Bioscience announcement also comes as the state enters the the final year of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, a 10-year-plan to make the state’s bioscience sector globally competitive. Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap was launched in 2002 by a comprehensive study by Battelle, the U.S. leader in positioning regions to excel in technology and the sciences. Commissioned by the Flinn Foundation, the study concluded that Arizona possessed many of the essential elements needed to become a global leader in niche areas in the biosciences, but must strengthen its biomedical-research base and build a critical mass of bioscience firms and jobs.

The roadmap, led by a 75-member steering committee of statewide bioscience leaders, specifically aims to build research infrastructure, build a critical mass of bioscience firms, enhance the business environment for bioscience firms, and prepare a workforce of educated citizens.

Arizona Bioscience Timeline

The following is a timeline of significant events that happened in the bioscience industry in Arizona since 2001.

2001

• Flinn Foundation commits to 10 years of major funding (a minimum of $50 million) to advance Arizona’s bioscience sector.

2002

• Gov. Dee Hull appoints a task force to raise funds to attract the International Genomics Consortium (IGC) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

• Dr. Jeffrey Trent announces IGC’s move to Arizona and establishment of TGen, spurred by a $90 million package assembled from collaborating public and private sources.

• Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, commissioned by the Flinn Foundation and drafted by Battelle, outlines recommendations for Arizona to become a national biosciences leader.

2003

• Gov. Janet Napolitano creates the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology to advance technology-related growth and economic development.

• TGen breaks ground on its downtown-Phoenix headquarters.

• The state Legislature approves $440 million for research-facility construction.

• Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, piloted by former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza, holds its inaugural meeting.

2004

• Gov. Janet Napolitano, UA President Peter Likins, ASU President Michael Crow, and Regent Gary Stuart sign memorandum of understanding to create the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, to include the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with ASU.

• Maricopa County voters approve a bond issue that includes $100 million to expand bioscience and healthcare training for Maricopa County Colleges.

• Biodesign Institute’s first building, a $73 million, 170,000-square-foot facility, is dedicated.

2005

• TGen headquarters opens at the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

• Mayo Clinic opens a heart-transplantation program on its Scottsdale campus, becoming Maricopa County’s first hospital approved for performing heart transplants.

2006

• Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust commits $50 million to advance personalized medicine in Maricopa County.

• Arizona launches the Biozona brand to promote the state’s bioscience industry.

2007

• Cancer Treatment Centers of America selects Goodyear as the site for a 210,000-square-foot cancer hospital, the for-profi t company’s first hospital west of the Rocky Mountains.

• Classes begin for 24 students in the inaugural class of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with ASU.

• Bioscience High School opens. The specialty high school focuses on science education, in collaboration with downtown-Phoenix academic and scientifi c communities.

2008

• ASU’s SkySong opens in Scottsdale; mixed-use development houses ASU commercialization and tech-transfer programs plus local and international companies.

• Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl named “Legislator of the Year” for 2007-2008 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the nation’s largest biotech trade group.

• Gov. Janet Napolitano announces formation of the Arizona STEM Education Center to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

2009

• TGen announces strategic alliance with Van Andel Research Institute of Grand Rapids, Mich. Jeffrey Trent assumes leadership of both institutions.

• Covance Inc. opens $175 million drug-development laboratory in Chandler. Facility may ultimately provide 2,000 high-wage jobs.

• A study of Arizona’s bioscience sector by Battelle finds that bio accounted for $12.5 billion in revenues in 2007 and more than 87,400 jobs.

• Chandler approves $5.7 million to establish bioscience- and high-tech-focused Innovations Technology Incubator.

2010

• VisionGate Inc., a Seattle medical-imaging company focused on early detection of cancer, announces that it is relocating its headquarters to the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

• Gov. Jan Brewer announces the creation of the Arizona Commerce Authority, a public-private partnership designed to attract firms in key growth areas, including the biosciences.

• The International Genomics Consortium secures $59 million in federal contracts to continue its role as the biospecimen core resource for the Cancer Genome Atlas Project.

2011

• Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon announces that Phoenix will be the headquarters for the nonprofit Institute for Advanced Health, founded by billionaire biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong.

• Phoenix Children’s Hospital opens its new 11-story, $588 million facility, accommodating

additional patients and new opportunity for recruitment of subspecialist researcher-physicians.

• An economic-impact report finds that for every $1 invested in Science Foundation Arizona by the state of Arizona, SFAz has returned $3.15 in investments from the private sector, venture capital, federal grants, and other sources.

• Chandler’s Innovations Technology Incubator, open a year, reached full capacity. Tenants include startup firms in the fields of biotechnology, bioinformatics, software design, nanotechnology, and medical devices.

2012

• Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says that his first priority as mayor is forming a new collaboration with Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic Hospital and others in the private sector to develop the Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative in northeast Phoenix.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Who To Watch: Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent

Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent
President and Research Director
TGen

Since it was founded in 2002, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has been helping people with neurological disorders and such diseases as cancer and diabetes through business spin-offs and commercialization of its research. Today, TGen’s president and scientific director, Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent, believes this Phoenix nonprofit has built an “underlying bioscience engine” in Arizona.

In fact, with TGen helping to attract and retain a knowledge-based work force, Arizona’s bioscience-research sector has held its own during the recession and even expanded. “As far as jobs are concerned, bioscience is still an area that shows growth in Arizona,” Trent says. That doesn’t mean the recession did not affect the bioscience sector as a whole.

“The area that has fallen the furthest is venture capital to seed new company formation,” Trent says. “There is no question Arizona has been behind the curve in venture capital for biomedical science.”

Last year, TGen announced the formation of its 10th business, but Trent says the organization must “look around the world for funding for these companies.” This is a national problem, he adds, but he is optimistic it will improve this year. Philanthropic donations for bioscience research also slowed during the economic downturn, but Trent already sees a return of that type of funding and is hopeful it will continue to gather momentum this year.
Still, TGen has managed to prosper.

“In less than three years, we doubled our economic impact, doubled employment and increased commercial activities 375 percent,” Trent says. “The biomedical sector and nonprofits are being hit as hard as anyone (by the recession), but we were able to not only maintain, but also to grow the last two or three years.”

In an independent analysis, Tripp Umbach, a Pittsburgh research firm, concluded that TGen generates an annual economic impact of $77.4 million, including spin-off businesses and commercialization. TGen’s economic clout is expected to reach $321.3 million annually by 2025, according to Tripp Umbach. Again, including business formation and commercialization in its calculations, Tripp Umbach reported that TGen produced $5.7 million in state taxes, created 461 full-time jobs and generated $14.07 for every dollar invested by the state in 2008.

In addition to federal funding and donations, and grants from businesses, foundations and individuals, TGen receives $5.5 million a year from state tobacco taxes. In 2025, the state’s return on investment is expected to reach $58.42 per dollar invested, tax revenues are estimated to climb to $27.4 million, and TGen is expected to generate more than 4,000 jobs when business and commercialization activities are factored in.

TGen reached several milestones last year, but from Trent’s point of view, the standout was its affiliation with the Van Andel Research Institute, a global organization headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“This affiliation brings a remarkably complementary scientific skill set under one roof,” Trent says. “Van Andel is basically a discovery engine and TGen gets to capture that and move it to a new test or treatment for patients. We are constantly renewing information that we can pull toward the patient.”

www.tgen.org


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

cress in lab

Researchers At The Translational Genomics Research Institute Have Embarked On A Number Of Cancer Studies

While scientists at the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) investigate diseases of the brain and heart, as well as deadly pathogens, most of the nonprofit biomedical institute’s research is devoted to seeking the genetic causes of cancer.

TGen’s central goal is to discover which genes within our 3-billion-base DNA either protect us from cancer or allow cancers to form.

This year, TGen has been involved in two cancer research initiatives that have potentially far-reaching implications.

In May, Stand Up to Cancer awarded an $18-million grant to TGen and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s physician-in-chief, and Dr. Craig B. Thompson, director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead a three-year investigation into new approaches in treating pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

In April, a study sponsored by TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare and Caris Dx showed that molecular profiling of patients can identify specific treatments for individuals, helping to keep their cancer in check for significantly longer periods and in some cases even shrink tumors. Von Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, released the study’s results at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver.

TGen this year also has made major headlines on a monthly basis following other discoveries and partnerships that could lead to new treatments for cancer patients.

In August, Dr. Glen Weiss, who works for TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare, announced two significant advances in treating lung cancer. Weiss, an associate investigator in TGen’s cancer and cell biology division and director of thoracic oncology at TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, made both announcements at the 13th World Conference on Lung Cancer in San Francisco. In one presentation, Weiss described research that eventually could help prevent lung cancer from spreading to the brain. In the second presentation, Weiss discussed the results of phase I clinical trials for a drug called TH-302 developed by Threshold Pharmaceuticals. The trials, conducted at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, found that 75 percent of patients with small cell lung cancer who were treated only with TH-302 “achieved stable disease or better.” The trials also found that 67 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer who were treated with a combination of TH-302 and other chemotherapy agents “achieved stable disease or better.”

In July, an international scientific team led by TGen received a $1 million grant from the Melanoma Research Alliance to study skin cancer. The team, led by Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen’s president and research director, will conduct a two-year study called, Identification of Novel Melanoma Risk Genes Using High-Throughput Genomics.

Also in July, California and Arizona researchers identified a gene variant that carries nearly twice the risk of developing an increasingly common type of blood cancer, according to a study published by the science journal, Nature Genetics. Investigators at the University of California, Berkeley and at TGen found that mutations in a gene called C6orf15, or STG, are associated with the risk of developing follicular lymphoma. This is a cancer of the body’s disease-fighting network and has an incidence rate that has nearly doubled in the past three decades.

In May, the opening of a new breast health center next to John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital provided significant new research opportunities for TGen. The 9,000-square-foot Breast Health and Research Center includes a tumor biorepository for TGen that will aid the research institute in discovering new ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer, which affects one in every eight American women.

In April, TGen researchers announced they might have found a way to stop the often rapid spread of deadly brain tumors. One gene, named NHERF-1, may be a serious target for drugs that could prevent malignant tumors from rapidly multiplying and invading other parts of the brain, according to a cover story in Neoplasia, an international journal of cancer research.

In February, TGen and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) announced they would forge a strategic alliance to enable both to maximize their worldwide contributions to science and health. The partnership between TGen and the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based VARI will enable both institutes to speed up their mutual goals of moving research discoveries about cancer and other debilitating medical conditions from laboratories to patient care as quickly as possible.

TGen’s efforts are also international. The institute is partnering with the small European country of Luxembourg to help develop the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL). In addition, TGen is part of the first IBBL demonstration project, Luxembourg Project Lung Cancer, in collaboration with the Partnership for Personalized Medicine.

Steve Yozwiak is a senior science writer at TGen, www.tgen.org.

Katie Pushor - AZ Business Magazine October/November 2006

CEO Katie Pushor Adds Fresh Ideas To Greater Phoenix Chamber Of Commerce

New President and CEO Katie Pushor adds fresh ideas to Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce


Katie Pushor gets a rush as she looks out of her 27th floor office, taking in the booming development in downtown Phoenix. The president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce mentions the expanding ASU campus, the expanding convention center and the TGen headquarters. “I just like to see what’s going on,” says Pushor, who took the helm of the 4,000-member chamber early this year.

“The most important thing I bring is the knowledge of actually running a business, being in business in the Valley for 27 years, and I understand the challenges that business owners and executives face,” Pushor says. “When we look at programs or events or opportunities we might have here at the chamber, I am able to say, ‘When I was in the business community, would that have had value for me? Is that something I would have wanted to go to?’”

Pushor agrees with others who say her leadership style is “calm and collaborative.” But she feels she is most noted for building superior management teams, “and getting accomplished through a team, what you could never accomplish through a collection of individuals.”

She’s also process-oriented. “I see structure,” she says. “Here at the chamber, I’ve been very interested in understanding our business processes and improving them so that they can better serve the needs of our growing community.”

Her main strength, Pushor says, is the diversity of her experience, but that’s not all. “My genuine interest in people and wanting their business to be successful is probably my greatest strength,” she says. “That’s what provides my motivation and passion when I come to work each day. I love to hear about other people’s business models, I like to understand what makes it work, how they get their customers, what their profit margin is, what their challenges are.”

Not surprisingly, Pushor says her weakness is impatience. “I’m able to see exactly what needs to get done, and I have a hard time understanding why it wasn’t done yesterday,” she says.

Working at the Arizona Lottery provided Pushor with a bridge to her current role. The Lottery is a quasi-public business that deals with 2,600 retail outlets, does a lot of consumer advertising and acts like a privately-held business, but is bound by legislative mandate.

“It was an opportunity for me to learn what it’s like to work with an administration and with elected officials and how to work within a legislative cycle,” she says. “And how a great deal of our value to the business community is advocating for them within the legislative and executive branches.”

Since coming on board at the Phoenix Chamber, Pushor has made it her business to meet with chambers and other groups in the Valley, such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and other economic development officials.

“That has helped me understand what they do, and helped me to differentiate in my mind what we’re doing,” she says. “What is the unique slot that we’re fitting in and where can we be of help to other people? Where can we join forces? A lot of it is communication and to be willing to be a student, and not come in and think you know all the answers.”

While high-tech is a key driving force of the Arizona economy, and a sector where Pushor excelled for several years, she now takes a broader view. “What the chamber really does is accelerate business growth and retention within the Valley,” she says. “What’s different about us is we look horizontally across the Valley. We don’t see you only as a bioscience company or only as a technology company or only as an agricultural company. We see you as a business partner.”

So the focus is on the challenges that all businesses face, such as workers’’ compensation, safety, human resource issues and employee retention. Pushor says her mission is to get the word out to non-member businesses about the services the chamber provides. “That’s why they hired me,” she says.

And she emphasizes that the chamber is not competing with business recruitment organizations. “They’re looking out of state, out of the country, to bring people here,” Pushor says. “We want you to start here and stay here and grow here. If they bring the fish in, then we’re the aquarium.”


Quick Facts about Katie Pushor

Katie Pushor’s resume reads like a been-there, done-that array of business and executive experience. She came to the Greater Phoenix Chamber from the Arizona Lottery, where under her leadership, revenues and profits soared. Beginning her career as a CPA, Pushor has started and operated two small businesses, held several executive positions at MicroAge starting in 1989, and in 2002, co-authored a book, “Into the Boardroom.”



Arizona Business Magazine October/November 2006